Although tea is widely thought to be a healthier source of caffeine than coffee, soda or energy drinks, conventional tea brands have been shown to contain high levels of toxic substances such as fluoride and pesticides, artificial ingredients, added flavors and GMOs(modified corn starch and soy lecithin).
The levels found in these products are so high that they are considered unsafe for consumption. As with most products, all tea is not created equal. Most teas are not washed before being dried, thus non-organic teas contain pesticide residues. Some tea brands (even those claimed organic or pesticide free) have recently been found to contain pesticides that are known carcinogens and in quantities above the US and EU limits. Tea plants drink up pesticides and heavy metals like a sponge.
Research has revealed some toxic facts about common tea brands and tea bags. Reports from India and China find high levels of banned pesticides in tea products, pointing to a lack of enforcement on pesticide use in major tea exporting countries. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consistently finds high levels of illegal residues on imported Tea that eventually finds its way to the American consumer. These include permethrin (a synthetic pyrethroid, linked to cancer and endocrine system disruption), DDE (a metabolite of DDT, banned in the U.S. in 1972), heptachlor epoxide (a derivative of the pesticide heptachlor, which was banned in the U.S. for use in agriculture and as a termiticide due to its carcinogenicity and persistence in the environment) and acetamiprid (a bee-toxic neonicotinoid). These issues increase consumer exposure to a dangerous blend of pesticides in conventional tea.
The question is Do the CONS outweigh the PROS when it comes to drinking tea? Some teas are laden with cancer-causing pesticides, GMO’s, and flavorings labeled natural. These flavorings are additives such as Castoreum (a substance taken out of glands from a beaver that are located near the anus, majority of raspberry flavored foods are made from these secretions), Carmine-Natural Red #4 (made from dried and ground up Cochina beetles, gives tea and foods a red color); however, many of these brands market their teas as being beneficial to your health, yet do nothing to control the toxins existing in the teas.
Are Your Tea Bags Toxic?
Mesh Tea Bags
Mesh bags are all the craze. But did you know that these toxic tea bags are made of plastic and can potentially leak out toxic chemicals when exposed to heat? And paper bags carry a risk of their own because many are coated with a carcinogenic compound! Here’s what you need to know about each.
Plastic Tea Bags
Plastic bags are made of different types of plastic—viscose rayon, PVC, thermoplastic, polypropylene, but the most prominent are food grade nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Nylon and PET are considered two of the safest plastics because they have extremely high melting points; this means it’s less likely that plastic chemicals will leach out of the bag and into your tea. Though both also have very high melting points, there is another temperature point for plastics that need to be considered: the “glass transition” temperature (Tg), the temperature at which the molecules of materials begin to break down. The Tg of a material is typically lower than its melting point. The Tg of PET is about 169°F, and the Tg of nylon is 116°F. Since water boils at 212°F, this is a major issue: the Tg of PET and nylon are exceeded. So while these plastics are generally considered among the safest in terms of leaching potential, the molecules in these plastic tea bags may still, in fact, break down and leach out when steeped in boiling water. Unfortunately, neither the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have any information on the toxicity of plastic tea bags or the levels of plastic chemicals that might migrate into the tea when steeped in hot water.
Paper Tea Bags
Paper tea bags pose an altogether different threat. They can actually be worse than plastic. Many paper bags are treated with a compound called epichlorohydrin, which is used to produce epoxy resins and acts as a pesticide! Epichlorohydrin is a plastic that helps to keep the tea bags from breaking. The problem is that epichlorohydrin can potentially break down in water – and be released into your drink. The Environmental Protection Agency says drinking water with high levels of epichlorohydrin, over a long period of time, could cause stomach problems and an increased risk of cancer. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) labels it a potential carcinogen, and it’s been shown to cause cancer in animals, impair fertility, and weaken immune function. And tea bags aren’t the only culprit! Coffee filters, sausage casings, and water filters are also treated with epichlorohydrin. a compound mainly used in the production of epoxy resins and is also used as a pesticide.